The Cincinnati Bengals are heading into their two toughest weeks of the season yet. Starting with an AFC North clash Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With a chance for a statement-making divisional win.
First, both teams head into this game with their season beginning in different ways. The Bengals are in first place in the division; with a 4-1 record heading into Week 6. The Steelers on the other hand are 2-2-1; ranking last in the division. Losing to the Baltimore Ravens, while starting their season with a tie against the Cleveland Browns. Plus, there’s the office drama surrounding Steelers running back La’Veon Bell. Despite a bad start, it would still be unwise to count Pittsburgh out.
History is likely to play a role as a motivator for both teams. The Steelers currently have a six game winning streak against the Bengals. Their last meeting between occurred on December 4, 2017. The Steelers won in a bruising 23-20 duel in Cincinnati on Monday Night Football. In a game featuring Bengals meltdown and a brutal injury for Steeler Ryan Shazier. That last meeting could leave an impact into the way both teams approach this upcoming game.
Sunday’s game presents an opportunity for both teams. For the Steelers, it’s a chance to reverse the course of their season. The Steelers also have the chance to get above .500 and have their first conference win. A Bengals win would make them look more like legitimate contenders. While giving the Bengals a 2-0 start in division play.
Pittsburgh area native Tyler Boyd will be the primary Bengals receiver to watch Sunday. With his Pittsburgh connections being just one reason why. Boyd is having a strong season so far; with two touchdowns and a team leading 30 receptions. Improving from the 22 receptions in just ten games last year. A.J. Green and Joe Mixon will be two other Bengals to watch on offense.
There’s quite the list of Bengals to watch on defense this Sunday. Starting with rookie Jessie Bates, gearing up for his first game against the Steelers. Bates currently leads the Bengals in interceptions with two. Meanwhile, Geno Atkins will be Ben Roethlisberger’s biggest challenge on Sunday. Atkins, Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt his brother J.J. are currently tied for the most sacks in the NFL.
Then there’s Vontaze Burfict, whose name often comes up when the Bengals play the Steelers. Burfict returned last week from a four-week suspension. He had an effective game last Sunday with seven tackles. Avoiding penalties will be a significant task for Burfict and the Bengals defense overall. Penalties have often hurt the Bengals in their recent meetings against the Steelers.
Sunday’s kickoff is set for 1:00 PM Eastern time at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium.